erik lundegaard

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Sunday August 30, 2015

Box Office: 'Compton' Wins Weakest Weekend of the Year

The third weekend of a hip-hop biopic narrowly beat the first weekend of an African-American family's tale of Christian redemption, which beat the fifth weekend of the traditional white hero adventure story, which beat the first weekend of a white family fleeing dark-skinned revolutionaries in South East Asia. 

But overall box office was down. Way down. 

“Straight Outta Compton” dropped 50% but won for the third weekend in a row, grossing $13 mil for an overall domestic total of $134. That's the highest gross (unadjusted) ever for a music biopic. 

“War Room,” written and directed by pastor-turned-auteur Alex Kendrick (“Fireproof,” “Facing the Giants”), about an African-American family that finds the right path thanks to an older, wiser woman named Miss Clara, finished second with $11 mil. Would love to see the racial breakdown of its demographics. Did white Christians show up or was it just black Christians? Either way, Kendrick is apparently filling the void left by Tyler Perry, who's mostly on TV now. 

Tom Cruise's fifth “Mission: Impossible” added another $8 mil (for $170 domestic, nearly $500 worldwide), while “No Escape,” directed by horror filmmaker John Erick Dowdle (“Quarantine,” “Devil”), about Owen Wilson, Lake Ball and their two girls trying to flee a coup in SE Asia, grossed only $8.2 in more than 3,000 theaters. It got lambasted by Jeff Wells in a great takedown review

But mostly Americans stayed away from the movies this weekend. If the overall gross holds at $85 million, it will be the weakest weekend of the year, beating out March 6-8, which grossed $89 million, and which was highlighted by a battle between “Chappie” and “The Second Best Exotice Marigold Hotel.” Who could forget? 

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Posted at 10:05 AM on Aug 30, 2015 in category Movies - Box Office
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Saturday August 29, 2015

Summer Box Office: Winners, Losers, Lessons

Summer 2015 box office winners

Some of the surprise winners: music, dinos, the life of the mind.

Channing Tatum and Seth MacFarlane need to send Fox Studios a thank-you note.

Their films (“Magic Mike XXL” and “Ted 2,” respectively) massively underperformed at the box office this summer, but as we're entering September nobody's talking about them in disparaging terms. Instead it's all about “Fantastic Four,” the Fox Studio reboot that was a massive critical and commercial bomb: 8% on Rotten Tomatoes, $50 million at the box office. That's one-third of what Tim Story's “FF” movies made back in the mid-2000s. You know that scene from the trailer (cut from the movie) where the Thing drops from a plane and lands like a bomb on the earth? Like that.

Here's what the two big predictors figured the summer box office would be:

 Rnk EW Prediction BO HitFix Prediction BO
1 Avengers: Age of Ultron $555 Avengers: Age of Ultron $550
2 Jurassic World $295 Minions $310
3 Inside Out $275 Jurassic World $300
4 Minions $240 Inside Out $265
5 Mission Impossible–Rogue Nation $195 Mission Impossible–Rogue Nation $200
6 Ted 2 $190 Mad Max: Fury Road $180
7 Mad Max: Fury Road $180 Ant-Man $175
8 Terminator Genisys $170 Ted 2 $165
9 Spy $165 San Andreas $150
10 Fantastic Four $160 Magic Mike XXL $145
11 Ant-Man $160 Spy $130
12 Magic Mike XXL $155 Fantastic Four $125
13 San Andreas $125 Vacation $125
14 Trainwreck $115 Terminator Genisys $120
15 Pitch Perfect 2 $105 Pixels $100

And here's what it's been, as of Thursday, and including the top 20 to account for the underperformers:

Rnk Summer Movies BO
1 Jurassic World $639
2 Avengers: Age of Ultron $457
3 Inside Out $342
4 Minions $321
5 Pitch Perfect 2 $183
6 Ant-Man $165
7 Mission Impossible–Rogue Nation $161
8 San Andreas $153
9 Mad Max: Fury Road $152
10 Straight Outta Compton $119
11 Spy $110
12 Trainwreck $103
13 Tomorrowland $93
14 Terminator Genisys $89
15 Ted 2 $81
16 Pixels $69
17 Magic Mike XXL $65
18 Vacation $53
19 Insidious Chapter 3 $52
20 Fantastic Four $50

Each of the predictors got the first four right, just not in the right order. Everyone assumed Avengers. Then a dinosaur roared.

EW did predict 13 of the 15, but without the messy variations in box office. They, and HitFix, played it safe, assuming most of the big movies in the $100-$300 million range, nothing below that, and nothing gargantuan. In fact, if you focus only on the rank of the prediction (1-15) vs. the actuality, you get this:

BO Range EW HitFix Actual
< $100 0 0 3
$100-$300 14 12 8
> $300 1 3 4

Basically we gorged on some movies and ignored others.

So what underperformed, based upon these industry predictions?

  • Fantastic Four: EW figured $160, or about the Tim Story “FF” numbers adjusted for inflation. HitFix took the bold movie of assuming a disappointment at $125. But it was the Thing dropping from a plane. 
  • Ted 2: Against the original's $218, EW assumed $190, HitFix $165. So again, they were assuming a dropoff. They got a cliff: $81.
  • Magic Mike XXL: $155/$145 vs. $65. The original grossed $113 and no doubt picked up adherents via home entertainment. But the chicks didn't flock. 
  • Terminator Genisys: $170/$120 vs. $89. I think we're done with this story. Oh, except it grossed $352 worldwide. Damn foreigners. 
  • Entourage: Off of everyone's charts, it wound up grossing $32 mil. Bye-bye, boys. 
  • Avengers: It's weird to say the eighth-highest-grossing film of all time (unadjusted) underperformed, but ... The original took in more than $600 mil, this one was predicted at a safe $550, and it delivered at $100 million below that: $457. It made nearly half (41%) of its gross opening weekend. Not good.

And what overperformed?

  • Jurassic World: Did about twice the business everyone thought. Unadjusted, it's the third-highest-grossing film domestically and worldwide. 
  • Pitch Perfect 2: HitFix didn't even include this and EW had it down at $105. Instead, it grossed $183 for the fifth-biggest movie of the summer. 
  • Straight Outta Compton: Nobody had this. It's at $119. It's already the highest-grossing music biopic of all time (unadjusted), and the 10th-biggest movie of the summer. 
  • Inside Out: $275/$265 from the predicters; $342 in actuality. Unadjusted, that's the second-highest-grossing Pixar movie of all time (after “Toy Story 3”); adjusted, it's sixth-highest, behind only the three “Toy Story”s, “Monsters, Inc.” and “Finding Nemo.”

So: Lessons Hollywood might learn from this? 

Well, the underperforming list is full of muscle-bound and/or loutish guys. The overperforming list includes movies that focus on women and African Americans. 

There might be a lesson somewhere in there.

Summer 2015 box office losers

Boys behaving badly performed badly at the box office. 

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Posted at 07:05 AM on Aug 29, 2015 in category Movies - Box Office
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Sunday August 23, 2015

Box Office: 'Compton' Wins Sleepy Weekend

Does it feel like summer is winding down? It certainly does at the box office.

“Straight Outta Compton” dropped 55% but still retrained the top spot by a long shot. It grossed $26.7 million domestically against the fourth weekend of “M:I –Rogue Nation,” which finished second with $11.7 million. “Compton” has now grossed $111.4 million in only 10 days, which is the second highest total ever for a music biopic, and only $8 mil behind No. 1 “Walk the Line.” Obviously unadjusted. But it does mean we're likely to see more music biopics of hip-hop artists in the near future. 

Did anyone predict these kind of numbers? Here: It might wind up with three times what “Fantastic Four” is grossing. This weekend, the beleaguered Fox/Marvel property earned another $3.6 mil for 10th place and an overall total of $49.6. How bad is that? Only four Marvel movies have done worse: two “Punisher” films ('04 and '08), “Elektra” and “Howard the Duck.” This FF still hasn't grossed what the 2005 Tim Story FFs grossed opening weekend. Again, I didn't think it was that bad. Or at least I thought there were redeeming qualities amid an obvious director-studio battle. 

The movies opening this weekend didn't exactly take off, either. “Sinister 2” finished in third place with $10.6, “Hitman” finished in fourth with $8.2, and “American Ultra,” starring Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart, which I reviewed for The Seattle Times, and which has its moments, only managed to scrape together $5.5 million for sixth place. 

The best per-theater average went to Lily Tomlin's “Grandma,” which played in only four theaters nationwide and earned $30K per.

Nine days from September now. 

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Posted at 04:29 PM on Aug 23, 2015 in category Movies - Box Office
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Sunday August 16, 2015

Box Office With Attitude: 'Straight Outta Compton' Sets Record

Straight Outta Compton movie

B.O.W.A.

If you adjust for inflation, the most popular music biopics since 1980 are as follows:

  • Coal Miner's Daughter (1980): $202.7 million
  • Walk the Line (2005): $150.5 million
  • Amadeus (1984): $120.7 million
  • La Bamba (1987): $112.5 million

Unadjusted, “Walk the Line” is top dog. It opened at $22.3 million in 2005 and grossed $119.5. Both are records for the genre. 

Until now. 

“Straight Outta Compton,” F. Gary Gray's adaptation of the story of NWA, opened this weekend with a $56.1 million haul, killing the competition. The third weekend of “Mission: Impossible V” came in second at $17 mil, while “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” debuted to a disappointing $13.5 mil.

More impressive? “Compton” did all this in only 2,757 theaters, for a per-theater average of $20.3K. (No other wide-release movie did better than $5K per screen.) It's the sixth-best August opener ever, the 10th-best R-rated opener ever. All time, it's 136th-best, which doesn't sound like much until you realize that its theater tally is 1,087th-best. 

Put it this way: 180 movies have opened with more than $50 million at the box office and only five debuted in fewer than 3,000 theaters. And only one of those—“8 Mile,” interestingly enough, starring Eminem—debuted in fewer theaters: It grossed $51 mil in 2,470 theaters. Meaning no movie that debuted in fewer theaters than “Compton” made more opening weekend. 

Where will it stop? It will almost have to perform like a horror movie (big opener, then nothing), or like “8 Mile” (44% of its earnings on opening weekend) to not surpass “Walk the Line,” which, remember, had the advantage of AA nominations/wins to add wind to its sails.

“Compton” is another in a string of hits this summer for Universal Studios, which has already scored with “Jurassic World” (No. 1 for the year), “Furious 7” (No. 3), “Minions” (No. 5), and “Pitch Perfect 2” (No. 7).

On the other side of the spectrum is Fox's “Fantastic Four,” which opened abyssmally last weekend, then dropped abyssmally this weekend: 68.9% for fourth place and $8 mil. Despite its bad open, Fox expanded its theater count by 9, bringing it to 4,004 theaters, so it too might set a record. Only 66 movies have appeared in more than 4,000 theaters and the lowest previous box office for those films was “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2,” which grossed a total of $119.7 million. “FF” looks to shatter that. After 10 days, it's at $41.9 mil.

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Posted at 10:56 AM on Aug 16, 2015 in category Movies - Box Office
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Sunday August 09, 2015

If This Be Doomsday! Parsing the Box-Office Disaster of 'Fantastic Four'

Here are a few of the superhero films that did better on opening weekend than Josh Trank's “Fantastic Four” did this weekend, when it grossed $26.2 million:

Movie Opening BO  Thtrs Rel. Date Domestic BO
Daredevil $40,310,419 3,471  Feb. 2003 $102,543,518
Hellboy II: The Golden Army $34,539,115 3,204 July 2008  $75,986,503
The Green Hornet $33,526,876 3,584 Jan. 2011  $98,780,042
Blade II $32,528,016 2,707 March 2002  $82,348,319
Unbreakable $30,330,771 2,708 Nov. 2000  $95,011,339

Fantastic Four's bad box office debut

That's unadjusted for inflation, by the way. Meaning the new FF didn't gross what “Unbreakable” grossed 15 years ago. It didn't even do half the business that the old (and super-crappy) Fantastic Four movies did 10 years ago, when the original debuted with $56 mil in 2005 and the sequel $58 in 2007. And remember, this one was supposed to wash the bad taste of those from our mouths. But judging from the Rotten Tomatoes reviews (9% and dropping), it looks like Trank's version left its own worse taste behind. 

In the end, “Fantastic Four” didn't even win the weekend, coming in second to the second weekend of “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation,” which dropped only 47% to gross $29.4. It's now grossed $108 domestically, $206 worldwide.

How long has it been since a superhero movie based on Marvel Comics characters debuted in something less than first place? Working backwards chronologically: Not Ant-Man, Avengers 2, Guardians, X-Men/Future Past, Amazing Spider-Man 2, Captain America 2, Thor 2, Wolverine, Iron Man 2, Amazing Spider-Man, or the Avengers. No, you've got to go to Feb. 2012 and the shitty sequel to the shitty 2007 Ghost Rider movie, which debuted in third place with $22 million. And if you remove the odd Satanic/Death Wish titles like Ghost Rider and Punisher? It hasn't happened since “Elektra” in January 2005. And if you focus on just top tier superhero characters? It's never happened. 

It'll be interesting to see who or what gets the blame for this. Trank, trying to deflect blame on Friday, merely had more fingers pointing back at him. But fans know that Fox has a horrible track record with superhero movie titles.

So is this poor performance a sign of: 1) superhero fatigue; 2) Fantastic Four fatigue; 3) Fox Studios fatigue; or 4) that the age of the superhero movie is ending? I think it's a combination, but I also thinking 3) is stronger than people suspect. The fan boys are still out there but they know how Fox screwed them in the past, so they're content to see this one on DVD and wait for the next Marvel Studios movie. 

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Posted at 12:01 PM on Aug 09, 2015 in category Movies - Box Office
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